This page is aimed at researchers who are keen to develop independent research careers through fellowship funding.

If you are planning to apply for independent research fellowships, you need to develop an effective strategy for identifying and applying for fellowships. A great place to start is the  GLASGOW Guide to Fellowship Applications (which we wrote!). You will also often find support within the school that will host you during your fellowship – as an example, this page from the Chemistry Department at Glasgow  contains great advice for those considering the fellowship route.

We run workshops to help people prepare either a plan for development ahead of a fellowship application or their proposal.

HWU Fellowships Workshop

These slides are from a recent session at Heriot-Watt University. There are also additional insights about the fellowship process on our Physics page. DON’T be put off if you aren’t a physicist – most of the advice can be applied right across the academic spectrum. The Physics page includes presentations on

Funders’ strategies and schemes (include EPSRC, STFC, RSE and SFI)

Insights from three fellowship holders about the steps they took to achieve success – Rita (STFC), Stuart (Royal Society) and Sheila (Marie Curie).

Advice from reviewers and panel members on how proposals are assessed – Sally, Cait and Eugene.

Much of the advice that we share in our workshops is outlined in the Glasgow guide which looks at the whole process of securing a prestigious fellowship and will help you to

  • locate and target appropriate fellowship opportunities.
  • explore how to create well-written fellowship applications.
  • explore how to best sell yourself at interview.
  • practise interview skills.

Most fellowship schemes are only available once a year, so it is important that you are clear when the deadlines are and leave plenty of time for proposal preparation. Typically these fall in the first quarter of the academic year, although some have two deadlines per year. Some also require preliminary applications before approval to apply in full. The fundamental lesson is that you should always check the dates and administrative arrangements for the schemes you are approaching long in advance, as details and systems are subject to change.

You should also think about how you will represent your “trajectory” in your application – this is how the track record you have built up demonstrates how your influence and importance as a researcher is growing. This could be represented by securing a range of small awards which enable you to travel, network and visit key groups. Finding these small awards can be a challenge, but your institution should have access to a research funding database, such as:

Research Professional (if you look at this from a networked university computer you should be able to gain access – assuming they are subscribers. Otherwise approach your research office for details of how to sign up or for information on which service they use.)

In the workshops that I run helping people to prepare for fellowship and other high pressure academic interviews I ask people to share challenging questions that they have either faced at previous interviews, or are concerned about facing in the future.

You can now download the list of these questions from the site. These questions should help you to prepare for your own interviews, but remember that your preparation should be focused on your specific funding scheme or the institution offering the vacancy you are applying for. These generic questions will need to be tailored to your personal situation.

Fellowship questions download

For more advice on academic interviews, there are a number of great blog posts from Steve Joy, the Careers Adviser for Researchers in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the Cambridge University Careers Service on his Early Career Blog. Although aimed at researchers in his case load, his advice has value to researchers of all disciplines.

The whole blog is worth reading but you can short-cut here to the interview-themed blog posts.

Many thanks to Anne Cameron, a careers adviser at Bath University for letting us know about the new fellowship resources on the University of Manchester site:

This is one of many examples of fellowship support from UK Institutions. Remember that if you hold external fellowship funding you are an extremely valuable and attractive resource for a university. Make sure that they make a good offer to you in terms of a PhD studentship, additional funding or career development support (and ultimately the offer of a permanent contract). More examples here:

Bristol Physics Fellowship resource including list of potential schemes

Glasgow Physics Fellowship resource (Scheme that tops up external fellowships with 2 years internal funding) (dated, but detailed list of potential fellowships with advice on applying)

1 Comment

  1. Researchers’ Forum – Me, my career and the REF | UWE Gradschool blog
    March 16, 2017

    […] for a range of presentations on research funding (Physics focused by largely transferable); see for resources on fellowship […]